It's simple: If you're not backing up your data, at some point you're going to regret that mistake. For many medium to large businesses, data is typically backed up via shared directories on a server. But for smaller companies, or end users who have needs outside of shared directories, it's nice to know there are backup tools that can be installed, free of charge, and can handle one, simple task: Backup your desktop data.
I'm not talking about applications with bells and whistles to suit every need. What I'm looking for are applications that can do one job and do it dependably. In my quest to find a backup tool to meet these needs, I came across five that could happily recommend. Let's take a look at these tools and see which, if any, will do the job you need done.
There is one caveat to some of these tools - for a few, the free version is assumed for private use only. The business versions of the same tools can be acquired, for a small price.
1. Backup Maker
Backup Maker is one of those tools you need if what you're looking for is simplicity and security. Backup Maker handles your desktop backups with an interface that nearly anyone (with any level of experience) can use. This tool easily handles compression and even offers strong encryption (AES 256-bit). Backup targets can be anything from USB drives, FTP (passive or FTP over SSL), or CD/DVD. Backup Maker even supports spanning backups (splitting larger backups into multiple files). The personal edition is free. If you need to dive in for a professional license, it will set you back $66.63 USD. Backup Maker works with Windows XP, 7, Vista, and 8.
2. Genie Timeline 2012
Genie Timeline 2012 has one of the most simplistic interfaces you'll find (bested only by the Linux-only Deja Dup) and is about as close to 'set it and forget it' as any backup can be. Although the free version of Genie is very limited in scope and feature, it will reliably backup desktop data with just a few, quick clicks. One of the nice features of Genie is that it can back up both unlocked and locked files (though I wouldn't depend upon a tool like this for a machine that runs a local database, such as MySQL). Genie Timeline offers an incredibly easy way to exclude files - called the No Backup Zone. Simply drag and drop files into this folder and they will not be backed up. Genie Timeline is available for Windows XP, 7, Vista, and 8.
FBackup is a nice and easy backup, with minimal features and maximum reliability. You can set FBackup for hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly intervals. The major limitation with Fbackup is that you do not get an option for either incremental or differential backups - all you get is full or mirror. Probably the one feature that won me over to FBackup is the application specific plugin. What the developers have done is set up plugins that enable quick and easy backups for popular applications. For example, there is an Email plugin that will backup popular email applications (like Thunderbird and Outlook). This feature should win over anyone that doesn't want to spend a great deal of time setting up backups. FBackup is available for Windows XP, 7, Vista, and 8.
LuckyBackup is the first of the Linux backups on the list. This is my personal backup solution of choice. Not only is it incredibly easy to use, it is also as flexible as the platform it backs up. Lucky Backup features: Backup or syncing directories; create snapshots of data; test-run system; exclude system; add/remove rsync options; execute user specific commands upon successful run; easy restore; and much more. Lucky Backup does not include its own scheduler, but works with the Linux cron system to create scheduled backups. With Lucky Backup you can create different profiles, so you can group backup jobs together for granular setup. Luck Backup runs on most all modern Linux systems.
5. Deja Dup
Deja Dup is the aforementioned backup with one of the minimal interfaces you will find on an application. Although Deja Dup offers an incredibly simple interface - it does offer plenty of features. With very little setup, you can have your data backed up to an attached drive or a cloud service (such as Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud Files, and Ubuntu One). By default, Deja locally encrypts and compresses your data and does incremental backups. If you're looking for one of the easiest ways to back up your Linux desktop data, you will not find an easier option than Deja Dup. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find an easier solution, regardless of platform.
If you have to ask the question "Should I be backing up my data?" you are in the wrong industry and should return to using tin cans and stone tablets. The ultimate question should not be if you'll lose data, but when you'll lose data. Even if you're shared drives are backed up on a server, you might need to backup specific local directories - or your business is a one man band in a home office and your budget for such software is next to zero. No matter the case, give one of these solutions a look and see if it will handle the task at hand.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.